Barcelona midfielder Alex Song has paid tribute to former manager Arsene Wenger, claiming the Frenchman was “like a father” to him during his seven-year spell with Arsenal.
The Cameroon international moved to north London as a 17-year-old, and initially found it hard to adapt to life in the capital after leaving his family in France.
And Song claims that Wenger made the transition to a new country and culture easy, allowing him to focus on his progression as a footballer.
“I am who I am thanks to him [Wenger],” he told Barca Magazine.
“When I came to England, he was a big help to me. I was very young, just 17, not 25 like I am now. Wenger was like a father to me.
“It was very hard for me at first because I had left my family behind in France, and so he treated me like a son.
“I have a great relationship with Wenger. I want to thank him for believing in me. I want to give him back everything he gave me I’m sure he's happy to see where I am now and the kind of player I have become.
“He always said ‘do you remember your first touches of the ball when you came to Arsenal? They’re not the same as they are now’. And I’d answer: ‘you’re right. They’re certainly not the same as they are now’”.
Song claims that he is settling into life in Spain well, but also offers his thanks to team-mate Cesc Fabregas for helping him adjust.
He added: “I have known him [Fabregas] for a long time and I slept at his house for the first few nights I was here. He’s a good friend. He tries to help me in training, in every game, on and off the field.”